Night and Morning, Complete
Edward Bulwer Lytton
Part 5 out of 11
together--poverty and feeling--poverty and pride--the poverty one is not
born to,--but falls into;--and the man who ousts you out of your
easy-chair, kicking you with every turn he takes, as he settles himself
more comfortably--why there's no romance in that--hard every-day life,
sir! Well, well:--so after your brother's letter you resigned yourself
to that fellow Smith."
"No; I gave him my money, not my soul. I turned from his door, with a
few shillings that he himself thrust into my hand, and walked on--I cared
not whither--out of the town, into the fields--till night came; and then,
just as I suddenly entered on the high-road, many miles away, the moon
rose; and I saw, by the hedge-side, something that seemed like a corpse;
it was an old beggar, in the last state of raggedness, disease, and
famine. He had laid himself down to die. I shared with him what I had,
and helped him to a little inn. As he crossed the threshold, he turned
round and blessed me. Do you know, the moment I heard that blessing a
stone seemed rolled away from my heart? I said to myself, 'What then!
even I can be of use to some one; and I am better off than that old man,
for I have youth and health.' As these thoughts stirred in me, my limbs,
before heavy with fatigue, grew light; a strange kind of excitement
seized me. I ran on gaily beneath the moonlight that smiled over the
crisp, broad road. I felt as if no house, not even a palace, were large
enough for me that night. And when, at last, wearied out, I crept into a
wood, and laid myself down to sleep, I still murmured to myself, 'I have
youth and health.' But, in the morning, when I rose, I stretched out my
arms, and missed my brother! . . . In two or three days I found
employment with a farmer; but we quarrelled after a few weeks; for once
he wished to strike me; and somehow or other I could work, but not serve.
Winter had begun when we parted.--Oh, such a winter!--Then--then I knew
what it was to be houseless. How I lived for some months--if to live it
can be called--it would pain you to hear, and humble me to tell. At
last, I found myself again in London; and one evening, not many days
since, I resolved at last--for nothing else seemed left, and I had not
touched food for two days--to come to you."
"And why did that never occur to you before?"!
"Because," said Philip, with a deep blush,--"because I trembled at the
power over my actions and my future life that I was to give to one, whom
I was to bless as a benefactor, yet distrust as a guide."
"Well," said Love, or Gawtrey, with a singular mixture of irony and
compassion in his voice; "and it was hunger, then, that terrified you at
last even more than I?"
"Perhaps hunger--or perhaps rather the reasoning that comes from hunger.
I had not, I say, touched food for two days; and I was standing on that
bridge, from which on one side you see the palace of a head of the
Church, on the other the towers of the Abbey, within which the men I have
read of in history lie buried. It was a cold, frosty evening, and the
river below looked bright with the lamps and stars. I leaned, weak and
sickening, against the wall of the bridge; and in one of the arched
recesses beside me a cripple held out his hat for pence. I envied him!--
he had a livelihood; he was inured to it, perhaps bred to it; he had no
shame. By a sudden impulse, I, too, turned abruptly round--held out my
hand to the first passenger, and started at the shrillness of my own
voice, as it cried 'Charity.'"
Gawtrey threw another log on the fire, looked complacently round the
comfortable room, and rubbed his hands. The young man continued,--
"'You should be ashamed of yourself--I've a great mind to give you to the
police,' was the answer, in a pert and sharp tone. I looked up, and saw
the livery my father's menials had worn. I had been begging my bread
from Robert Beaufort's lackey! I said nothing; the man went on his
business on tiptoe, that the mud might not splash above the soles of his
shoes. Then, thoughts so black that they seemed to blot out every star
from the sky--thoughts I had often wrestled against, but to which I now
gave myself up with a sort of mad joy--seized me: and I remembered you.
I had still preserved the address you gave me; I went straight to the
house. Your friend, on naming you, received me kindly, and without
question placed food before me--pressed on me clothing and money--
procured me a passport--gave me your address--and now I am beneath your
roof. Gawtrey, I know nothing yet of the world but the dark side of it.
I know not what to deem you--but as you alone have been kind to me, so it
is to your kindness rather than your aid, that I now cling--your kind
words and kind looks-yet--" he stopped short, and breathed hard.
"Yet you would know more of me. Faith, my boy, I cannot tell you more at
this moment. I believe, to speak fairly, I don't live exactly within the
pale of the law. But I'm not a villain! I never plundered my friend and
called it play!--I never murdered my friend and called it honour!--I
never seduced my friend's wife and called it gallantry!" As Gawtrey said
this, he drew the words out, one by one, through his grinded teeth,
paused and resumed more gaily: "I struggle with Fortune; _voila tout_!
I am not what you seem to suppose--not exactly a swindler, certainly not
a robber! But, as I before told you, I am a charlatan, so is every man
who strives to be richer or greater than he is.
"I, too, want kindness as much as you do. My bread and my cup are at your
service. I will try and keep you unsullied, even by the clean dirt that
now and then sticks to me. On the other hand, youth, my young friend,
has no right to play the censor; and you must take me as you take the
world, without being over-scrupulous and dainty. My present vocation
pays well; in fact, I am beginning to lay by. My real name and past life
are thoroughly unknown, and as yet unsuspected, in this quartier; for
though I have seen much of Paris, my career hitherto has passed in other
parts of the city;--and for the rest, own that I am well disguised! What
a benevolent air this bald forehead gives me--eh? True," added Gawtrey,
somewhat more seriously," if I saw how you could support yourself in a
broader path of life than that in which I pick out my own way, I might
say to you, as a gay man of fashion might say to some sober stripling--
nay, as many a dissolute father says (or ought to say) to his son, 'It is
no reason you should be a sinner, because I am not a saint.' In a word,
if you were well off in a respectable profession, you might have safer
acquaintances than myself. But, as it is, upon my word as a plain man,
I don't see what you can do better." Gawtrey made this speech with so
much frankness and ease, that it seemed greatly to relieve the listener,
and when he wound up with, "What say you? In fine, my life is that of a
great schoolboy, getting into scrapes for the fun of it, and fighting his
way out as he best can!--Will you see how you like it?" Philip, with a
confiding and grateful impulse, put his hand into Gawtrey's. The host
shook it cordially, and, without saying another word, showed his guest
into a little cabinet where there was a sofa-bed, and they parted for the
night. The new life upon which Philip Morton entered was so odd, so
grotesque, and so amusing, that at his age it was, perhaps, natural that
he should not be clear-sighted as to its danger.
William Gawtrey was one of those men who are born to exert a certain
influence and ascendency wherever they may be thrown; his vast strength,
his redundant health, had a power of themselves--a moral as well as
physical power. He naturally possessed high animal spirits, beneath the
surface of which, however, at times, there was visible a certain
undercurrent of malignity and scorn. He had evidently received a
superior education, and could command at will the manner of a man not
unfamiliar with a politer class of society. From the first hour that
Philip had seen him on the top of the coach on the R---- road, this man
had attracted his curiosity and interest; the conversation he had heard
in the churchyard, the obligations he owed to Gawtrey in his escape from
the officers of justice, the time afterwards passed in his society till
they separated at the little inn, the rough and hearty kindliness Gawtrey
had shown him at that period, and the hospitality extended to him now,--
all contributed to excite his fancy, and in much, indeed very much,
entitled this singular person to his gratitude. Morton, in a word, was
fascinated; this man was the only friend he had made. I have not thought
it necessary to detail to the reader the conversations that had taken
place between them, during that passage of Morton's life when he was
before for some days Gawtrey's companion; yet those conversations had
sunk deep in his mind. He was struck, and almost awed, by the profound
gloom which lurked under Gawtrey's broad humour--a gloom, not of
temperament, but of knowledge. His views of life, of human justice and
human virtue, were (as, to be sure, is commonly the case with men who
have had reason to quarrel with the world) dreary and despairing; and
Morton's own experience had been so sad, that these opinions were more
influential than they could ever have been with the happy. However in
this, their second reunion, there was a greater gaiety than in their
first; and under his host's roof Morton insensibly, but rapidly,
recovered something of the early and natural tone of his impetuous and
ardent spirits. Gawtrey himself was generally a boon companion; their
society, if not select, was merry. When their evenings were disengaged,
Gawtrey was fond of haunting cafes and theatres, and Morton was his
companion; Birnie (Mr. Gawtrey's partner) never accompanied them.
Refreshed by this change of life, the very person of this young man
regained its bloom and vigour, as a plant, removed from some choked
atmosphere and unwholesome soil, where it had struggled for light and
air, expands on transplanting; the graceful leaves burst from the long-
drooping boughs, and the elastic crest springs upward to the sun in the
glory of its young prime. If there was still a certain fiery sternness
in his aspect, it had ceased, at least, to be haggard and savage, it even
suited the character of his dark and expressive features. He might not
have lost the something of the tiger in his fierce temper, but in the
sleek hues and the sinewy symmetry of the frame he began to put forth
also something of the tiger's beauty.
Mr. Birnie did not sleep in the house, he went home nightly to a lodging
at some little distance. We have said but little about this man, for, to
all appearance, there was little enough to say; he rarely opened his own
mouth except to Gawtrey, with whom Philip often observed him engaged in
whispered conferences, to which he was not admitted. His eye, however,
was less idle than his lips; it was not a bright eye: on the contrary, it
was dull, and, to the unobservant, lifeless, of a pale blue, with a dim
film over it--the eye of a vulture; but it had in it a calm, heavy,
stealthy watchfulness, which inspired Morton with great distrust and
aversion. Mr. Birnie not only spoke French like a native, but all his
habits, his gestures, his tricks of manner, were, French; not the French
of good society, but more idiomatic, as it were, and popular. He was not
exactly a vulgar person, he was too silent for that, but he was evidently
of low extraction and coarse breeding; his accomplishments were of a
mechanical nature; he was an extraordinary arithmetician, he was a very
skilful chemist, and kept a laboratory at his lodgings--he mended his own
clothes and linen with incomparable neatness. Philip suspected him of
blacking his own shoes, but that was prejudice. Once he found Morton
sketching horses' heads--_pour se desennuyer_; and he made some short
criticisms on the drawings, which showed him well acquainted with the
art. Philip, surprised, sought to draw him into conversation; but Birnie
eluded the attempt, and observed that he had once been an engraver.
Gawtrey himself did not seem to know much of the early life of this
person, or at least he did not seem to like much to talk of him. The
footstep of Mr. Birnie was gliding, noiseless, and catlike; he had no
sociality in him--enjoyed nothing--drank hard--but was never drunk.
Somehow or other, he had evidently over Gawtrey an influence little less
than that which Gawtrey had over Morton, but it was of a different
nature: Morton had conceived an extraordinary affection for his friend,
while Gawtrey seemed secretly to dislike Birnie, and to be glad whenever
he quitted his presence. It was, in truth, Gawtrey's custom when Birnie
retired for the night, to rub his hands, bring out the punchbowl, squeeze
the lemons, and while Philip, stretched on the sofa, listened to him,
between sleep and waking, to talk on for the hour together, often till
daybreak, with that bizarre mixture of knavery and feeling, drollery and
sentiment, which made the dangerous charm of his society.
One evening as they thus sat together, Morton, after listening for some
time to his companion's comments on men and things, said abruptly,--
"Gawtrey! there is so much in you that puzzles me, so much which I find
it difficult to reconcile with your present pursuits, that, if I ask no
indiscreet confidence, I should like greatly to hear some account of your
early life. It would please me to compare it with my own; when I am
your age, I will then look back and see what I owed to your example."
"My early life! well--you shall hear it. It will put you on your guard,
I hope, betimes against the two rocks of youth--love and friendship."
Then, while squeezing the lemon into his favourite beverage, which Morton
observed he made stronger than usual, Gawtrey thus commenced:
THE HISTORY OF A GOOD-FOR-NOTHING.
"All his success must on himself depend,
He had no money, counsel, guide, or friend;
With spirit high John learned the world to brave,
And in both senses was a ready knave."--CRABBE.
"My grandfather sold walking-sticks and umbrellas in the little passage
by Exeter 'Change; he was a man of genius and speculation. As soon as he
had scraped together a little money, he lent it to some poor devil with a
hard landlord, at twenty per cent., and made him take half the loan in
umbrellas or bamboos. By these means he got his foot into the ladder,
and climbed upward and upward, till, at the age of forty, he had amassed
L5,000. He then looked about for a wife. An honest trader in the
Strand, who dealt largely in cotton prints, possessed an only daughter;
this young lady had a legacy, from a great-aunt, of L3,220., with a small
street in St. Giles's, where the tenants paid weekly (all thieves or
rogues-all, so their rents were sure). Now my grandfather conceived a
great friendship for the father of this young lady; gave him a hint as to
a new pattern in spotted cottons; enticed him to take out a patent, and
lent him L700. for the speculation; applied for the money at the very
moment cottons were at their worst, and got the daughter instead of the
money,--by which exchange, you see, he won L2,520., to say nothing of the
young lady. My grandfather then entered into partnership with the worthy
trader, carried on the patent with spirit, and begat two sons. As he
grew older, ambition seized him; his sons should be gentlemen--one was
sent to College, the other put into a marching regiment. My grandfather
meant to die worth a plum; but a fever he caught in visiting his tenants
in St. Giles's prevented him, and he only left L20,000. equally divided
between the sons. My father, the College man" (here Gawtrey paused a
moment, took a large draught of the punch, and resumed with a visible
effort)--"my father, the College man, was a person of rigid principles--
bore an excellent character--had a great regard for the world. He
married early and respectably. I am the sole fruit of that union; he
lived soberly, his temper was harsh and morose, his home gloomy; he was a
very severe father, and my mother died before I was ten years old. When
I was fourteen, a little old Frenchman came to lodge with us; he had been
persecuted under the old _regime_ for being a philosopher; he filled my
head with odd crotchets which, more or less, have stuck there ever since.
At eighteen I was sent to St. John's College, Cambridge. My father was
rich enough to have let me go up in the higher rank of a pensioner, but
he had lately grown avaricious; he thought that I was extravagant; he
made me a sizar, perhaps to spite me. Then, for the first time, those
inequalities in life which the Frenchman had dinned into my ears met me
practically. A sizar! another name for a dog! I had such strength,
health, and spirits, that I had more life in my little finger than half
the fellow-commoners--genteel, spindle-shanked striplings, who might have
passed for a collection of my grandfather's walking-canes--bad in their
whole bodies. And I often think," continued Gawtrey, "that health and
spirits have a great deal to answer for! When we are young we so far
resemble savages who are Nature's young people--that we attach prodigious
value to physical advantages. My feats of strength and activity--the
clods I thrashed--and the railings I leaped--and the boat-races I won--
are they not written in the chronicle of St. John's? These achievements
inspired me with an extravagant sense of my own superiority; I could not
but despise the rich fellows whom I could have blown down with a sneeze.
Nevertheless, there was an impassable barrier between me and them--a
sizar was not a proper associate for the favourites of fortune! But
there was one young man, a year younger myself, of high birth, and the
heir to considerable wealth, who did not regard me with the same
supercilious insolence as the rest; his very rank, perhaps, made him
indifferent to the little conventional formalities which influence
persons who cannot play at football with this round world; he was the
wildest youngster in the university--lamp-breaker--tandem-driver--mob-
fighter--a very devil in short--clever, but not in the reading line--
small and slight, but brave as a lion. Congenial habits made us
intimate, and I loved him like a brother--better than a brother--as a dog
loves his master. In all our rows I covered him with my body. He had
but to say to me, 'Leap into the water,' and I would not have stopped to
pull off my coat. In short, I loved him as a proud man loves one who
stands betwixt him and contempt,--as an affectionate man loves one who
stands between him and solitude. To cut short a long story: my friend,
one dark night, committed an outrage against discipline, of the most
unpardonable character. There was a sanctimonious, grave old fellow of
the College, crawling home from a tea-party; my friend and another of his
set seized, blindfolded, and handcuffed this poor wretch, carried him,
_vi et armis_, back to the house of an old maid whom he had been courting
for the last ten years, fastened his pigtail (he wore a long one) to the
knocker, and so left him. You may imagine the infernal hubbub which his
attempts to extricate himself caused in the whole street; the old maid's
old maidservant, after emptying on his head all the vessels of wrath she
could lay her hand to, screamed, 'Rape and murder!' The proctor and his
bull-dogs came up, released the prisoner, and gave chase to the
delinquents, who had incautiously remained near to enjoy the sport. The
night was dark and they reached the College in safety, but they had been
tracked to the gates. For this offence I was expelled."
"Why, you were not concerned in it?" said Philip.
"No; but I was suspected and accused. I could have got off by betraying
the true culprits, but my friend's father was in public life--a stern,
haughty old statesman; my friend was mortally afraid of him--the only
person he was afraid of. If I had too much insisted on my innocence, I
might have set inquiry on the right track. In fine, I was happy to prove
my friendship for him. He shook me most tenderly by the hand on parting,
and promised never to forget my generous devotion. I went home in
disgrace: I need not tell you what my father said to me: I do not think
he ever loved me from that hour. Shortly after this my uncle, George
Gawtrey, the captain, returned from abroad; he took a great fancy to me,
and I left my father's house (which had grown insufferable) to live with
him. He had been a very handsome man--a gay spendthrift; he had got
through his fortune, and now lived on his wits--he was a professed
gambler. His easy temper, his lively humour, fascinated me; he knew the
world well; and, like all gamblers, was generous when the dice were
lucky,--which, to tell you the truth, they generally were, with a man who
had no scruples. Though his practices were a little suspected, they had
never been discovered. We lived in an elegant apartment, mixed
familiarly with men of various ranks, and enjoyed life extremely. I
brushed off my college rust, and conceived a taste for expense: I knew
not why it was, but in my new existence every one was kind to me; and I
had spirits that made me welcome everywhere. I was a scamp--but a
frolicsome scamp--and that is always a popular character. As yet I was
not dishonest, but saw dishonesty round me, and it seemed a very
pleasant, jolly mode of making money; and now I again fell into contact
with the young heir. My college friend was as wild in London as he had
been at Cambridge; but the boy-ruffian, though not then twenty years of
age, had grown into the man-villain."
Here Gawtrey paused, and frowned darkly.
"He had great natural parts, this young man-much wit, readiness, and
cunning, and he became very intimate with my uncle. He learned of him
how to play the dice, and a pack the cards--he paid him L1,000. for the
"How! a cheat? You said he was rich."
"His father was very rich, and he had a liberal allowance, but he was
very extravagant; and rich men love gain as well as poor men do! He had
no excuse but the grand excuse of all vice--SELFISHNESS. Young as he was
he became the fashion, and he fattened upon the plunder of his equals,
who desired the honour of his acquaintance. Now, I had seen my uncle
cheat, but I had never imitated his example; when the man of fashion
cheated, and made a jest of his earnings and my scruples--when I saw him
courted, flattered, honoured, and his acts unsuspected, because his
connections embraced half the peerage, the temptation grew strong, but I
still resisted it. However, my father always said I was born to be a
good-for-nothing, and I could not escape my destiny. And now I suddenly
fell in love--you don't know what that is yet--so much the better for
you. The girl was beautiful, and I thought she loved me--perhaps she
did--but I was too poor, so her friends said, for marriage. We courted,
as the saying is, in the meanwhile. It was my love for her, my wish to
deserve her, that made me iron against my friend's example. I was fool
enough to speak to him of Mary--to present him to her--this ended in her
seduction." (Again Gawtrey paused, and breathed hard.) "I discovered
the treachery--I called out the seducer-he sneered, and refused to fight
the low-born adventurer. I struck him to the earth--and then we fought.
I was satisfied by a ball through my side! but he," added Gawtrey,
rubbing his hands, and with a vindictive chuckle,--"He was a cripple for
life! When I recovered I found that my foe, whose sick-chamber was
crowded with friends and comforters, had taken advantage of my illness to
ruin my reputation. He, the swindler, accused me of his own crime: the
equivocal character of my uncle confirmed the charge. Him, his own high-
born pupil was enabled to unmask, and his disgrace was visited on me. I
left my bed to find my uncle (all disguise over) an avowed partner in a
hell, and myself blasted alike in name, love, past, and future. And
then, Philip--then I commenced that career which I have trodden since--
the prince of good-fellows and good-for-nothings, with ten thousand
aliases, and as many strings to my bow. Society cast me off when I was
innocent. Egad, I have had my revenge on society since!--Ho! ho! ho!"
The laugh of this man had in it a moral infection. There was a sort of
glorying in its deep tone; it was not the hollow hysteric of shame and
despair--it spoke a sanguine joyousness! William Gawtrey was a man whose
animal constitution had led him to take animal pleasure in all things: he
had enjoyed the poisons he had lived on.
"But your father--surely your father--"
"My father," interrupted Gawtrey, "refused me the money (but a small sum)
that, once struck with the strong impulse of a sincere penitence, I
begged of him, to enable me to get an honest living in a humble trade.
His refusal soured the penitence--it gave me an excuse for my career
and conscience grapples to an excuse as a drowning wretch to a straw.
And yet this hard father--this cautious, moral, money-loving man, three
months afterwards, suffered a rogue--almost a stranger--to decoy him into
a speculation that promised to bring him fifty per cent. He invested in
the traffic of usury what had sufficed to save a hundred such as I am
from perdition, and he lost it all. It was nearly his whole fortune; but
he lives and has his luxuries still: be cannot speculate, but he can
save: he cared not if I starved, for he finds an hourly happiness in
"And your friend," said Philip, after a pause in which his young
sympathies went dangerously with the excuses for his benefactor; "what
has become of him, and the poor girl?"
"My friend became a great man; he succeeded to his father's peerage--a
very ancient one--and to a splendid income. He is living still. Well,
you shall hear about the poor girl! We are told of victims of seduction
dying in a workhouse or on a dunghill, penitent, broken-hearted, and
uncommonly ragged and sentimental. It may be a frequent case, but it is
not the worst. It is worse, I think, when the fair, penitent, innocent,
credulous dupe becomes in her turn the deceiver--when she catches vice
from the breath upon which she has hung--when she ripens, and mellows,
and rots away into painted, blazing, staring, wholesale harlotry--when,
in her turn, she ruins warm youth with false smiles and long bills--and
when worse--worse than all--when she has children, daughters perhaps,
brought up to the same trade, cooped, plumper, for some hoary lecher,
without a heart in their bosoms, unless a balance for weighing money may
be called a heart. Mary became this; and I wish to Heaven she had rather
died in an hospital! Her lover polluted her soul as well as her beauty:
he found her another lover when he was tired of her. When she was at the
age of thirty-six I met her in Paris, with a daughter of sixteen. I was
then flush with money, frequenting salons, and playing the part of a fine
gentleman. She did not know me at first; and she sought my acquaintance.
For you must know, my young friend," said Gawtrey, abruptly breaking off
the thread of his narrative, "that I am not altogether the low dog you
might suppose in seeing me here. At Paris--ah! you don't know Paris--
there is a glorious ferment in society in which the dregs are often
uppermost! I came here at the Peace, and here have I resided the greater
part of each year ever since. The vast masses of energy and life, broken
up by the great thaw of the Imperial system, floating along the tide, are
terrible icebergs for the vessel of the state. Some think Napoleonism
over--its effects are only begun. Society is shattered from one end to
the other, and I laugh at the little rivets by which they think to keep
[This passage was written at a period when the dynasty of Louis
Philippe seemed the most assured, and Napoleonism was indeed
"But to return. Paris, I say, is the atmosphere for adventurers--new
faces and new men are so common here that they excite no impertinent
inquiry, it is so usual to see fortunes made in a day and spent in a
month; except in certain circles, there is no walking round a man's
character to spy out where it wants piercing! Some lean Greek poet put
lead in his pockets to prevent being blown away;--put gold in your
pockets, and at Paris you may defy the sharpest wind in the world,--yea,
even the breath of that old AEolus--Scandal! Well, then, I had money--no
matter how I came by it--and health, and gaiety; and I was well received
in the coteries that exist in all capitals, but mostly in France, where
pleasure is the cement that joins many discordant atoms. Here, I say, I
met Mary and her daughter, by my old friend--the daughter, still
innocent, but, sacra! in what an element of vice! We knew each other's
secrets, Mary and I, and kept them: she thought me a greater knave than I
was, and she intrusted to me her intention of selling her child to a rich
English marquis. On the other hand, the poor girl confided to me her
horror of the scenes she witnessed and the snares that surrounded her.
What do you think preserved her pure from all danger? Bah! you will
never guess! It was partly because, if example corrupts, it as often
deters, but principally because she loved. A girl who loves one man
purely has about her an amulet which defies the advances of the
profligate. There was a handsome young Italian, an artist, who
frequented the house--he was the man. I had to choose, then, between
mother and daughter: I chose the last."
Philip seized hold of Gawtrey's hand, grasped it warmly, and the good-
"Do you know, that I loved that girl as well as I had ever loved the
mother, though in another way; she was what I fancied the mother to be;
still more fair, more graceful, more winning, with a heart as full of
love as her mother's had been of vanity. I loved that child as if she
had been my own daughter. I induced her to leave her mother's house--I
secreted her--I saw her married to the man she loved--I gave her away,
and saw no more of her for several months."
"Because I spent them in prison! The young people could not live upon
air; I gave them what I had, and in order to do more I did something
which displeased the police; I narrowly escaped that time; but I am
popular--very popular, and with plenty of witnesses, not over-scrupulous,
I got off! When I was released, I would not go to see them, for my
clothes were ragged: the police still watched me, and I would not do them
harm in the world! Ay, poor wretches! they struggled so hard: he could
got very little by his art, though, I believe, he was a cleverish fellow
at it, and the money I had given them could not last for ever. They
lived near the Champs Elysees, and at night I used to steal out and look
at them through the window. They seemed so happy, and so handsome, and
so good; but he looked sickly, and I saw that, like all Italians, he
languished for his own warm climate. But man is born to act as well as
to contemplate," pursued Gawtrey, changing his tone into the allegro;
"and I was soon driven into my old ways, though in a lower line. I went
to London, just to give my reputation an airing, and when I returned,
pretty flush again, the poor Italian was dead, and Fanny was a widow,
with one boy, and enceinte with a second child. So then I sought her
again, for her mother had found her out, and was at her with her devilish
kindness; but Heaven was merciful, and took her away from both of us: she
died in giving birth to a girl, and her last words were uttered to me,
imploring me--the adventurer--the charlatan--the good-for-nothing--to
keep her child from the clutches of her own mother. Well, sir, I did
what I could for both the children; but the boy was consumptive, like his
father, and sleeps at Pere-la-Chaise. The girl is here--you shall see
her some day. Poor Fanny! if ever the devil will let me, I shall reform
for her sake. Meanwhile, for her sake I must get grist for the mill. My
story is concluded, for I need not tell you all of my pranks--of all the
parts I have played in life. I have never been a murderer, or a burglar,
or a highway robber, or what the law calls a thief. I can only say, as I
said before, I have lived upon my wits, and they have been a tolerable
capital on the whole. I have been an actor, a money-lender, a physician,
a professor of animal magnetism (that was lucrative till it went out of
fashion, perhaps it will come in again); I have been a lawyer, a house-
agent, a dealer in curiosities and china; I have kept a hotel; I have set
up a weekly newspaper; I have seen almost every city in Europe, and made
acquaintance with some of its gaols; but a man who has plenty of brains
generally falls on his legs."
"And your father?" said Philip; and here he spoke to Gawtrey of the
conversation he had overheard in the churchyard, but on which a scruple
of natural delicacy had hitherto kept him silent.
"Well, now," said his host, while a slight blush rose to his cheeks,
"I will tell you, that though to my father's sternness and avarice I
attribute many of my faults, I yet always had a sort of love for him; and
when in London I accidentally heard that he was growing blind, and living
with an artful old jade of a housekeeper, who might send him to rest with
a dose of magnesia the night after she had coaxed him to make a will in
her favour. I sought him out--and--but you say you heard what passed."
"Yes; and I heard him also call you by name, when it was too late, and I
saw the tears on his cheeks."
"Did you? Will you swear to that?" exclaimed Gawtrey, with vehemence:
then, shading his brow with his band, he fell into a reverie that lasted
"If anything happen to me, Philip," he said, abruptly, "perhaps he may
yet be a father to poor Fanny; and if he takes to her, she will repay him
for whatever pain I may, perhaps, have cost him. Stop! now I think of
it, I will write down his address for you--never forget it--there! It is
time to go to bed."
Gawtrey's tale made a deep impression on Philip. He was too young, too
inexperienced, too much borne away by the passion of the narrator, to see
that Gawtrey had less cause to blame Fate than himself. True, he had
been unjustly implicated in the disgrace of an unworthy uncle, but he had
lived with that uncle, though he knew him to be a common cheat; true, he
had been betrayed by a friend, but he had before known that friend to be
a man without principle or honour. But what wonder that an ardent boy
saw nothing of this--saw only the good heart that had saved a poor girl
from vice, and sighed to relieve a harsh and avaricious parent? Even the
hints that Gawtrey unawares let fall of practices scarcely covered by the
jovial phrase of "a great schoolboy's scrapes," either escaped the notice
of Philip, or were charitably construed by him, in the compassion and the
ignorance of a young, hasty, and grateful heart.
"And she's a stranger
"As we love our youngest children best,
So the last fruit of our affection,
Wherever we bestow it, is most strong;
Since 'tis indeed our latest harvest-home,
Last merriment 'fore winter!"
WEBSTER, _Devil's Law Case_.
"I would fain know what kind of thing a man's heart is?
I will report it to you; 'tis a thing framed
With divers corners!"--ROWLEY.
I have said that Gawtrey's tale made a deep impression on Philip;--that
impression was increased by subsequent conversations, more frank even
than their talk had hitherto been. There was certainly about this man a
fatal charm which concealed his vices. It arose, perhaps, from the
perfect combinations of his physical frame--from a health which made his
spirits buoyant and hearty under all circumstances--and a blood so fresh,
so sanguine, that it could not fail to keep the pores of the heart open.
But he was not the less--for all his kindly impulses and generous
feelings, and despite the manner in which, naturally anxious to make the
least unfavourable portrait of himself to Philip, he softened and glossed
over the practices of his life--a thorough and complete rogue, a
dangerous, desperate, reckless daredevil. It was easy to see when
anything crossed him, by the cloud on his shaggy brow, by the swelling of
the veins on the forehead, by the dilation of the broad nostril, that he
was one to cut his way through every obstacle to an end,--choleric,
impetuous, fierce, determined. Such, indeed, were the qualities that
made him respected among his associates, as his more bland and humorous
ones made him beloved. He was, in fact, the incarnation of that great
spirit which the laws of the world raise up against the world, and by
which the world's injustice on a large scale is awfully chastised; on a
small scale, merely nibbled at and harassed, as the rat that gnaws the
hoof of the elephant:--the spirit which, on a vast theatre, rises up,
gigantic and sublime, in the heroes of war and revolution--in Mirabeaus,
Marats, Napoleons: on a minor stage, it shows itself in demagogues,
fanatical philosophers, and mob-writers; and on the forbidden boards,
before whose reeking lamps outcasts sit, at once audience and actors, it
never produced a knave more consummate in his part, or carrying it off
with more buskined dignity, than William Gawtrey. I call him by his
aboriginal name; as for his other appellations, Bacchus himself had not
One day, a lady, richly dressed, was ushered by Mr. Birnie into the
bureau of Mr. Love, alias Gawtrey. Philip was seated by the window,
reading, for the first time, the _Candide_,--that work, next to
_Rasselas_, the most hopeless and gloomy of the sports of genius with
mankind. The lady seemed rather embarrassed when she perceived Mr. Love
was not alone. She drew back, and, drawing her veil still more closely
round her, said, in French:
"Pardon me, I would wish a private conversation." Philip rose to
withdraw, when the lady, observing him with eyes whose lustre shone
through the veil, said gently: "But perhaps the young gentleman is
"He is not discreet, he is discretion!--my adopted son. You may confide
in him--upon my honour you may, madam!" and Mr. Love placed his hand on
"He is very young," said the lady, in a tone of involuntary compassion,
as, with a very white hand, she unclasped the buckle of her cloak.
"He can the better understand the curse of celibacy," returned Mr. Love,
The lady lifted part of her veil, and discovered a handsome mouth, and a
set of small, white teeth; for she, too, smiled, though gravely, as she
turned to Morton, and said--
"You seem, sir, more fitted to be a votary of the temple than one of its
officers. However, Monsieur Love, let there be no mistake between us; I
do not come here to form a marriage, but to prevent one. I understand
that Monsieur the Vicomte de Vaudemont has called into request your
services. I am one of the Vicomte's family; we are all anxious that he
should not contract an engagement of the strange and, pardon me,
unbecoming character, which must stamp a union formed at a public
"I assure you, madam," said Mr. Love, with dignity, "that we have
contributed to the very first--"
"_Mon Dieu_!" interrupted the lady, with much impatience, "spare me a
eulogy on your establishment: I have no doubt it is very respectable; and
for _grisettes_ and _epiciers_ may do extremely well. But the Vicomte is
a man of birth and connections. In a word, what he contemplates is
preposterous. I know not what fee Monsieur Love expects; but if he
contrive to amuse Monsieur de Vaudemont, and to frustrate every
connection he proposes to form, that fee, whatever it may be, shall be
doubled. Do you understand me?"
"Perfectly, madam; yet it is not your offer that will bias me, but the
desire to oblige so charming a lady."
"It is agreed, then?" said the lady, carelessly; and as she spoke she
again glanced at Philip.
"If madame will call again, I will inform her of my plans," said Mr.
"Yes, I will call again. Good morning!" As she rose and passed Philip,
she wholly put aside her veil, and looked at him with a gaze entirely
free from coquetry, but curious, searching, and perhaps admiring--the
look that an artist may give to a picture that seines of more value than
the place where he finds it would seem to indicate. The countenance of
the lady herself was fair and noble, and Philip felt a strange thrill at
his heart as, with a slight inclination of her' head, she turned from the
"Ah!" said Gawtrey, laughing, "this is not the first time I have been
paid by relations to break off the marriages I had formed. Egad! if one
could open a _bureau_ to make married people single, one would soon be a
Croesus! Well, then, this decides me to complete the union between
Monsieur Goupille and Mademoiselle de Courval. I had balanced a little
hitherto between the _epicier_ and the Vicomte. Now I will conclude
matters. Do you know, Phil, I think you have made a conquest?"
"Pooh!" said Philip, colouring.
In effect, that very evening Mr. Love saw both the _epicier_ and Adele,
and fixed the marriage-day. As Monsieur Goupille was a person of great
distinction in the Faubourg, this wedding was one upon which Mr. Love
congratulated himself greatly; and he cheerfully accepted an invitation
for himself and his partners to honour the _noces_ with their presence.
A night or two before the day fixed for the marriage of Monsieur Goupille
and the aristocratic Adele, when Mr. Birnie had retired, Gawtrey made his
usual preparations for enjoying himself. But this time the cigar and the
punch seemed to fail of their effect. Gawtrey remained moody and silent;
and Morton was thinking of the bright eyes of the lady who was so much
interested against the amours of the Vicomte de Vaudemont.
At last, Gawtrey broke silence:
"My young friend," said he, "I told you of my little _protege_; I have
been buying toys for her this morning; she is a beautiful creature;
to-morrow is her birthday--she will then be six years old. But--but--"
here Gawtrey sighed--"I fear she is not all right here," and he touched
"I should like much to see her," said Philip, not noticing the latter
"And you shall--you shall come with me to-morrow. Heigho! I should not
like to die, for her sake!"
"Does her wretched relation attempt to regain her?"
"Her relation! No; she is no more--she died about two years since! Poor
Mary! I--well, this is folly. But Fanny is at present in a convent;
they are all kind to her, but then I pay well; if I were dead, and the
pay stopped,--again I ask, what would become of her, unless, as I before
said, my father--"
"But you are making a fortune now?"
"If this lasts--yes; but I live in fear--the police of this cursed city
are lynx-eyed; however, that is the bright side of the question."
"Why not have the child with you, since you love her so much? She would
be a great comfort to you."
"Is this a place for a child--a girl?" said Gawtrey, stamping his foot
impatiently. "I should go mad if I saw that villainous deadman's eye bent
You speak of Birnie. How can you endure him?"
"When you are my age you will know why we endure what we dread--why we
make friends of those who else would be most horrible foes: no, no--
nothing can deliver me of this man but Death. And--and--" added Gawtrey,
turning pale, "I cannot murder a man who eats my bread. There are
stronger ties, my lad, than affection, that bind men, like galley-slaves,
together. He who can hang you puts the halter round your neck and leads
you by it like a dog."
A shudder came over the young listener. And what dark secrets, known
only to those two, had bound, to a man seemingly his subordinate and
tool, the strong will and resolute temper of William Gawtrey?
"But, begone, dull care!" exclaimed Gawtrey, rousing himself. "And,
after all, Birnie is a useful fellow, and dare no more turn against me
than I against him! Why don't you drink more?
"Oh! have you e'er heard of the famed Captain Wattle?"
and Gawtrey broke out into a loud Bacchanalian hymn, in which Philip
could find no mirth, and from which the songster suddenly paused to
"Mind you say nothing about Fanny to Birnie; my secrets with him are not
of that nature. He could not hurt her, poor lamb! it is true--at least,
as far as I can foresee. But one can never feel too sure of one's lamb,
if one once introduces it to the butcher!"
The next day being Sunday, the bureau was closed, and Philip and Gawtrey
repaired to the convent. It was a dismal-looking place as to the
exterior; but, within, there was a large garden, well kept, and,
notwithstanding the winter, it seemed fair and refreshing, compared with
the polluted streets. The window of the room into which they were shown
looked upon the green sward, with walls covered with ivy at the farther
end. And Philip's own childhood came back to him as he gazed on the
quiet of the lonely place.
The door opened--an infant voice was heard, a voice of glee-of rapture;
and a child, light and beautiful as a fairy, bounded to Gawtrey's breast.
Nestling there, she kissed his face, his hands, his clothes, with a
passion that did not seem to belong to her age, laughing and sobbing
almost at a breath.
On his part, Gawtrey appeared equally affected: he stroked down her hair
with his huge hand, calling her all manner of pet names, in a tremulous
voice that vainly struggled to be gay.
At length he took the toys he had brought with him from his capacious
pockets, and strewing them on the floor, fairly stretched his vast bulk
along; while the child tumbled over him, sometimes grasping at the toys,
and then again returning to his bosom, and laying her head there, looked
up quietly into his eyes, as if the joy were too much for her.
Morton, unheeded by both, stood by with folded arms. He thought of his
lost and ungrateful brother, and muttered to himself:
"Fool! when she is older, she will forsake him!"
Fanny betrayed in her face the Italian origin of her father. She had
that exceeding richness of complexion which, though not common even in
Italy, is only to be found in the daughters of that land, and which
harmonised well with the purple lustre of her hair, and the full, clear
iris of the dark eyes. Never were parted cherries brighter than her dewy
lips; and the colour of the open neck and the rounded arms was of a
whiteness still more dazzling, from the darkness of the hair and the
carnation of the glowing cheek.
Suddenly Fanny started from Gawtrey's arms, and running up to Morton,
gazed at him wistfully, and said, in French:
"Who are you? Do you come from the moon? I think you do." Then,
stopping abruptly, she broke into a verse of a nursery-song, which she
chaunted with a low, listless tone, as if she were not conscious of the
sense. As she thus sang, Morton, looking at her, felt a strange and
painful doubt seize him. The child's eyes, though soft, were so vacant
in their gaze.
"And why do I come from the moon?" said he.
"Because you look sad and cross. I don't like you--I don't like the
moon; it gives me a pain here!" and she put her hand to her temples.
"Have you got anything for Fanny--poor, poor Fanny?" and, dwelling on the
epithet, she shook her head mournfully.
"You are rich, Fanny, with all those toys."
"Am I? Everybody calls me poor Fanny--everybody but papa;" and she ran
again to Gawtrey, and laid her head on his shoulder.
"She calls me papa!" said Gawtrey, kissing her; "you hear it? Bless
"And you never kiss any one but Fanny--you have no other little girl?"
said the child, earnestly, and with a look less vacant than that which
had saddened Morton.
"No other--no--nothing under heaven, and perhaps above it, but you!" and
he clasped her in his arms. "But," he added, after a pause--"but mind
me, Fanny, you must like this gentleman. He will be always good to you:
and he had a little brother whom he was as fond of as I am of you."
"No, I won't like him--I won't like anybody but you and my sister!"
"Sister!--who is your sister?"
The child's face relapsed into an expression almost of idiotcy. "I don't
know--I never saw her. I hear her sometimes, but I don't understand what
she says.--Hush! come here!" and she stole to the window on tiptoe.
Gawtrey followed and looked out.
"Do you hear her, now?" said Fanny. "What does she say?"
As the girl spoke, some bird among the evergreens uttered a shrill,
plaintive cry, rather than song--a sound which the thrush occasionally
makes in the winter, and which seems to express something of fear, and
pain, and impatience. "What does she say?--can you tell me?" asked the
"Pooh! that is a bird; why do you call it your sister?"
"I don't know!--because it is--because it--because--I don't know--is it
not in pain?--do something for it, papa!"
Gawtrey glanced at Morton, whose face betokened his deep pity, and
creeping up to him, whispered,--
"Do you think she is really touched here? No, no,--she will outgrow it--
I am sure she will!"
Fanny by this time had again seated herself in the middle of the floor,
and arranged her toys, but without seeming to take pleasure in them.
At last Gawtrey was obliged to depart. The lay sister, who had charge of
Fanny, was summoned into the parlour; and then the child's manner
entirely changed; her face grew purple--she sobbed with as much anger as
grief. "She would not leave papa--she would not go--that she would not!"
"It is always so," whispered Gawtrey to Morton, in an abashed and
apologetic voice. "It is so difficult to get away from her. Just go and
talk with her while I steal out."
Morton went to her, as she struggled with the patient good-natured
sister, and began to soothe and caress her, till she turned on him her
large humid eyes, and said, mournfully,
"_Tu es mechant, tu_. Poor Fanny!"
"But this pretty doll--" began the sister. The child looked at it
"And papa is going to die!"
"Whenever Monsieur goes," whispered the nun, "she always says that he is
dead, and cries herself quietly to sleep; when Monsieur returns, she says
he is come to life again. Some one, I suppose, once talked to her about
death; and she thinks when she loses sight of any one, that that is
"Poor child!" said Morton, with a trembling voice.
The child looked up, smiled, stroked his cheek with her little hand, and
"Thank you!--Yes! poor Fanny! Ah, he is going--see!--let me go too--
_tu es mechant_."
"But," said Morton, detaining her gently, "do you know that you give him
pain?--you make him cry by showing pain yourself. Don't make him so
The child seemed struck, hung down her head for a moment, as if in
thought, and then, jumping from Morton's lap, ran to Gawtrey, put up her
pouting lips, and said:
"One kiss more!"
Gawtrey kissed her, and turned away his head.
"Fanny is a good girl!" and Fanny, as she spoke, went back to Morton, and
put her little fingers into her eyes, as if either to shut out Gawtrey's
retreat from her sight, or to press back her tears.
"Give me the doll now, sister Marie."
Morton smiled and sighed, placed the child, who struggled no more, in the
nun's arms, and left the room; but as he closed the door he looked back,
and saw that Fanny had escaped from the sister, thrown herself on the
floor, and was crying, but not loud.
"Is she not a little darling?" said Gawtrey, as they gained the street.
"She is, indeed, a most beautiful child!"
"And you will love her if I leave her penniless," said Gawtrey, abruptly.
"It was your love for your mother and your brother that made me like you
from the first. Ay," continued Gawtrey, in a tone of great earnestness,
"ay, and whatever may happen to me, I will strive and keep you, my poor
lad, harmless; and what is better, innocent even of such matters as sit
light enough on my own well-seasoned conscience. In turn, if ever you
have the power, be good to her,--yes, be good to her! and I won't say a
harsh word to you if ever you like to turn king's evidence against
"Gawtrey!" said Morton, reproachfully, and almost fiercely.
"Bah!--such things are! But tell me honestly, do you think she is very
"I have not seen enough of her to judge," answered Morton, evasively.
"She is so changeful," persisted Gawtrey. "Sometimes you would say that
she was above her age, she comes out with such thoughtful, clever things;
then, the next moment, she throws me into despair. These nuns are very
skilful in education--at least they are said to be so. The doctors give
me hope, too. You see, her poor mother was very unhappy at the time of
her birth--delirious, indeed: that may account for it. I often fancy
that it is the constant excitement which her state occasions me that
makes me love her so much. You see she is one who can never shift for
herself. I must get money for her; I have left a little already with the
superior, and I would not touch it to save myself from famine! If she
has money people will be kind enough to her. And then," continued
Gawtrey, "you must perceive that she loves nothing in the world but me
--me, whom nobody else loves! Well--well, now to the shop again!"
On returning home the _bonne_ informed them that a lady had called, and
asked both for Monsieur Love and the young gentleman, and seemed much
chagrined at missing both. By the description, Morton guessed she was
the fair _incognita_, and felt disappointed at having lost the interview.
"The cursed carle was at his wonted trade,
Still tempting heedless men into his snare,
In witching wise, as I before have said;
But when he saw, in goodly gear array'd,
The grave majestic knight approaching nigh,
His countenance fell."--THOMSON, _Castle of Indolence_.
The morning rose that was to unite Monsieur Goupille with Mademoiselle
Adele de Courval. The ceremony was performed, and bride and bridegroom
went through that trying ordeal with becoming gravity. Only the elegant
Adele seemed more unaffectedly agitated than Mr. Love could well account
for; she was very nervous in church, and more often turned her eyes to
the door than to the altar. Perhaps she wanted to run away; but it was
either too late or too early for the proceeding. The rite performed, the
happy pair and their friends adjourned to the _Cadran Bleu_, that
_restaurant_ so celebrated in the festivities of the good citizens of
Paris. Here Mr. Love had ordered, at the _epicier's_ expense, a most
"_Sacre_! but you have not played the economist, Monsieur Lofe," said
Monsieur Goupille, rather querulously, as he glanced at the long room
adorned with artificial flowers, and the table _a cingitante couverts_.
"Bah!" replied Mr. Love, "you can retrench afterwards. Think of the
fortune she brought you."
"It is a pretty sum, certainly," said Monsieur Goupille, "and the notary
is perfectly satisfied."
"There is not a marriage in Paris that does me more credit," said Mr.
Love; and he marched off to receive the compliments and congratulations
that awaited him among such of the guests as were aware of his good
offices. The Vicomte de Vaudemont was of course not present. He had not
been near Mr. Love since Adele had accepted the _epicier_. But Madame
Beavor, in a white bonnet lined with lilac, was hanging, sentimentally,
on the arm of the Pole, who looked very grand with his white favour; and
Mr. Higgins had been introduced, by Mr. Love, to a little dark Creole,
who wore paste diamonds, and had very languishing eyes; so that Mr.
Love's heart might well swell with satisfaction at the prospect of the
various blisses to come, which might owe their origin to his benevolence.
In fact, that archpriest of the Temple of Hymen was never more great than
he was that day; never did his establishment seem more solid, his
reputation more popular, or his fortune more sure. He was the life of
The banquet over, the revellers prepared for a dance. Monsieur Goupille,
in tights, still tighter than he usually wore, and of a rich nankeen,
quite new, with striped silk stockings, opened the ball with the lady of
a rich _patissier_ in the same Faubourg; Mr. Love took out the bride.
The evening advanced; and after several other dances of ceremony,
Monsieur Goupille conceived himself entitled to dedicate one to connubial
affection. A country-dance was called, and the _epicier_ claimed the
fair hand of the gentle Adele. About this time, two persons not hitherto
perceived had quietly entered the room, and, standing near the doorway,
seemed examining the dancers, as if in search for some one. They bobbed
their heads up and down, to and fro stopped--now stood on tiptoe. The
one was a tall, large-whiskered, fair-haired man; the other, a little,
thin, neatly-dressed person, who kept his hand on the arm of his
companion, and whispered to him from time to time. The whiskered
gentleman replied in a guttural tone, which proclaimed his origin to be
German. The busy dancers did not perceive the strangers. The bystanders
did, and a hum of curiosity circled round; who could they be?--who had
invited them?--they were new faces in the Faubourg--perhaps relations to
In high delight the fair bride was skipping down the middle, while
Monsieur Goupille, wiping his forehead with care, admired her agility;
when, to and behold! the whiskered gentleman I have described abruptly
advanced from his companion, and cried:
"_La voila!--sacre tonnerre!_"
At that voice--at that apparition, the bride halted; so suddenly indeed,
that she had not time to put down both feet, but remained with one high
in the air, while the other sustained itself on the light fantastic toe.
The company naturally imagined this to be an operatic flourish, which
called for approbation. Monsieur Love, who was thundering down behind
her, cried, "Bravo!" and as the well-grown gentleman had to make a sweep
to avoid disturbing her equilibrium, he came full against the whiskered
stranger, and sent him off as a bat sends a ball.
"_Mon Dieu_!" cried Monsieur Goupille. "_Ma douce amie_--she has
fainted away!" And, indeed, Adele had no sooner recovered her, balance,
than she resigned it once more into the arms of the startled Pole, who
was happily at hand.
In the meantime, the German stranger, who had saved himself from falling
by coming with his full force upon the toes of Mr. Higgins, again
advanced to the spot, and, rudely seizing the fair bride by the arm,
"No sham if you please, madame--speak! What the devil have you done with
"Really, sir," said Monsieur Goupille, drawing tip his cravat, "this is
very extraordinary conduct! What have you got to say to this lady's
money?--it is _my_ money now, sir!"
"Oho! it is, is it? We'll soon see that. _Approchez donc, Monsieur
Favart, faites votre devoir_."
At these words the small companion of the stranger slowly sauntered to
the spot, while at the sound of his name and the tread of his step, the
throng gave way to the right and left. For Monsieur Favart was one of
the most renowned chiefs of the great Parisian police--a man worthy to
be the contemporary of the illustrious Vidocq.
"_Calmez vous, messieurs_; do not be alarmed, ladies," said this
gentleman, in the mildest of all human voices; and certainly no oil
dropped on the waters ever produced so tranquillising an effect as that
small, feeble, gentle tenor. The Pole, in especial, who was holding the
fair bride with both his arms, shook all over, and seemed about to let
his burden gradually slide to the floor, when Monsieur Favart, looking at
him with a benevolent smile, said--
"_Aha, mon brave! c'est toi. Restez donc. Restez, tenant toujours la
The Pole, thus condemned, in the French idiom, "always to hold the dame,"
mechanically raised the arms he had previously dejected, and the police
officer, with an approving nod of the head, said,--
"_Bon,! ne bougez point,--c'est ca_!"
Monsieur Goupille, in equal surprise and indignation to see his better
half thus consigned, without any care to his own marital feelings, to the
arms of another, was about to snatch her from the Pole, when Monsieur
Favart, touching him on the breast with his little finger, said, in the
"_Mon bourgeois_, meddle not with what does not concern you!"
"With what does not concern me!" repeated Monsieur Goupille, drawing
himself up to so great a stretch that he seemed pulling off his tights
the wrong way. "Explain yourself, if you please! This lady is my wife!"
"Say that again,--that's all!" cried the whiskered stranger, in most
horrible French, and with a furious grimace, as he shook both his fists
just under the nose of the _epicier_.
"Say it again, sir," said Monsieur Goupille, by no means daunted; "and
why should not I say it again? That lady is my wife!"
"You lie!--she is mine!" cried the German; and bending down, he caught
the fair Adele from the Pole with as little ceremony as if she had never
had a great-grandfather a marquis, and giving her a shake that might have
roused the dead, thundered out,--
"Speak! Madame Bihl! Are you my wife or not?"
"_Monstre_!" murmured Adele, opening her eyes.
"There--you hear--she owns me!" said the German, appealing to the
company with a triumphant air.
"_C'est vrai_!" said the soft voice of the policeman. And now, pray
don't let us disturb your amusements any longer. We have a fiacre at the
door. Remove your lady, Monsieur Bihl."
"Monsieur Lofe!--Monsieur Lofe!" cried, or rather screeched the
_epicier_, darting across the room, and seizing the _chef_ by the tail of
his coat, just as he was half way through the door, "come back! _Quelle
mauvaise plaisanterie me faites-vous ici_? Did you not tell me that lady
was single? Am I married or not: Do I stand on my head or my heels?"
"Hush-hush! _mon bon bourgeois_!" whispered Mr. Love; "all shall be
"Who is this gentleman?" asked Monsieur Favart, approaching Mr. Love,
who, seeing himself in for it, suddenly jerked off the _epicier_, thrust
his hands down into his breeches' pockets, buried his chin in his cravat,
elevated his eyebrows, screwed in his eyes, and puffed out his cheeks, so
that the astonished Monsieur Goupille really thought himself bewitched,
and literally did not recognise the face of the match-maker.
"Who is this gentleman?" repeated the little officer, standing beside,
or rather below, Mr. Love, and looking so diminutive by the contras that
you might have fancied that the Priest of Hymen had only to breathe to
blow him away.
"Who should he be, monsieur?" cried, with great pertness, Madame Rosalie
Caumartin, coming to the relief, with the generosity of her sex.--"This
is Monsieur Lofe--_Anglais celebre_. What have you to say against him?"
"He has got five hundred francs of mine!" cried the epicier.
The policeman scanned Mr. Love, with great attention. "So you are in
Paris again?--_Hein!--vous jouez toujours votre role_!
"_Ma foi_!" said Mr. Love, boldly; "I don't understand what monsieur
means; my character is well known--go and inquire it in London--ask the
Secretary of Foreign Affairs what is said of me--inquire of my
Ambassador--demand of my--"
"_Votre passeport, monsieur_?"
"It is at home. A gentleman does not carry his passport in his pocket
when he goes to a ball!"
"I will call and see it--_au revoir_! Take my advice and leave Paris; I
think I have seen you somewhere!"
"Yet I have never had the honour to marry monsieur!" said Mr. Love, with
a polite bow.
In return for his joke, the policeman gave Mr. Love one look-it was a
quiet look, very quiet; but Mr. Love seemed uncommonly affected by it;
he did not say another word, but found himself outside the house in a
twinkling. Monsieur Favart turned round and saw the Pole making himself
as small as possible behind the goodly proportions of Madame Beavor.
"What name does that gentleman go by?"
"So--vo--lofski, the heroic Pole," cried Madame Beavor, with sundry
misgivings at the unexpected cowardice of so great a patriot.
"Hein! take care of yourselves, ladies. I have nothing against that
person this time. But Monsieur Latour has served his apprenticeship at
the galleys, and is no more a Pole than I am a Jew."
"And this lady's fortune!" cried Monsieur Goupitle, pathetically; "the
settlements are all made--the notaries all paid. I am sure there must be
Monsieur Bihl, who had by this time restored his lost Helen to her
senses, stalked up to the _epicier_, dragging the lady along with him.
"Sir, there is no mistake! But, when I have got the money, if you like
to have the lady you are welcome to her."
"Monstre!" again muttered the fair Adele.
"The long and the short of it," said Monsieur Favart, "is that Monsieur
Bihl is a _brave garcon_, and has been half over the world as a courier."
"A courier!" exclaimed several voices.
"Madame was nursery-governess to an English _milord_. They married, and
quarrelled--no harm in that, _mes amis_; nothing more common. Monsieur
Bihl is a very faithful fellow; nursed his last master in an illness that
ended fatally, because he travelled with his doctor. Milord left him a
handsome legacy--he retired from service, and fell ill, perhaps from
idleness or beer. Is not that the story, Monsieur Bihl?"
"He was always drunk--the wretch!" sobbed Adele. "That was to drown my
domestic sorrows," said the German; "and when I was sick in my bed,
madame ran off with my money. Thanks to monsieur, I have found both, and
I wish you a very good night."
"_Dansez-vous toujours, mes amis_," said the officer, bowing. And
following Adele and her spouse, the little man left the room--where he
had caused, in chests so broad and limbs so doughty, much the same
consternation as that which some diminutive ferret occasions in a burrow
of rabbits twice his size.
Morton had outstayed Mr. Love. But he thought it unnecessary to linger
long after that gentleman's departure; and, in the general hubbub that
ensued, he crept out unperceived, and soon arrived at the _bureau_. He
found Mr. Love and Mr. Birnie already engaged in packing up their
"Why--when did you leave?" said Morton to Mr. Birnie.
"I saw the policeman enter."
"And why the deuce did not you tell us?" said Gawtrey.
"Every man for himself. Besides, Mr. Love was dancing," replied Mr.
Birnie, with a dull glance of disdain. "Philosophy," muttered Gawtrey,
thrusting his dresscoat into his trunk; then, suddenly changing his
voice, "Ha! ha! it was a very good joke after all--own I did it well.
Ecod! if he had not given me that look, I think I should have turned the
tables on him. But those d---d fellows learn of the mad doctors how to
tame us. Faith, my heart went down to my shoes--yet I'm no coward!"
"But, after all, he evidently did not know you," said Morton; "and what
has he to say against you? Your trade is a strange one, but not
dishonest. Why give up as if---"
"My young friend," interrupted Gawtrey, "whether the officer comes after
us or not, our trade is ruined; that infernal Adele, with her fabulous
_grandmaman_, has done for us. Goupille will blow the temple about our
ears. No help for it--eh, Birnie?"
"Go to bed, Philip: we'll call thee at daybreak, for we must make clear
work before our neighbours open their shutters."
Reclined, but half undressed, on his bed in the little cabinet, Morton
revolved the events of the evening. The thought that he should see no
more of that white hand and that lovely mouth, which still haunted his
recollection as appertaining to the _incognita_, greatly indisposed him
towards the abrupt flight intended by Gawtrey, while (so much had his
faith in that person depended upon respect for his confident daring, and
so thoroughly fearless was Morton's own nature) he felt himself greatly
shaken in his allegiance to the chief, by recollecting the effect
produced on his valour by a single glance from the instrument of law.
He had not yet lived long enough to be aware that men are sometimes the
Representatives of Things; that what the scytale was to the Spartan hero,
a sheriff's writ often is to a Waterloo medallist: that a Bow Street
runner will enter the foulest den where Murder sits with his fellows, and
pick out his prey with the beck of his forefinger. That, in short, the
thing called LAW, once made tangible and present, rarely fails to palsy
the fierce heart of the thing called CRIME. For Law is the symbol of all
mankind reared against One Foe--the Man of Crime. Not yet aware of this
truth, nor, indeed, in the least suspecting Gawtrey of worse offences
than those of a charlatanic and equivocal profession, the young man mused
over his protector's cowardice in disdain and wonder: till, wearied with
conjectures, distrust, and shame at his own strange position of
obligation to one whom he could not respect, he fell asleep.
When he woke, he saw the grey light of dawn that streamed cheerlessly
through his shutterless window, struggling with the faint ray of a candle
that Gawtrey, shading with his hand, held over the sleeper. He started
up, and, in the confusion of waking and the imperfect light by which he
beheld the strong features of Gawtrey, half imagined it was a foe who
stood before him.
"Take care, man," said Gawtrey, as Morton, in this belief, grasped his
arm. "You have a precious rough gripe of your own. Be quiet, will you?
I have a word to say to you." Here Gawtrey, placing the candle on a
chair, returned to the door and closed it.
"Look you," he said in a whisper, "I have nearly run through my circle of
invention, and my wit, fertile as it is, can present to me little
encouragement in the future. The eyes of this Favart once on me, every
disguise and every double will not long avail. I dare not return to
London: I am too well known in Brussels, Berlin, and Vienna--"
"But," interrupted Morton, raising himself on his arm, and fixing his
dark eyes upon his host,--"but you have told me again and again that you
have committed no crime; why then be so fearful of discovery?"
"Why," repeated Gawtrey, with a slight hesitation which he instantly
overcame, "why! have not you yourself learned that appearances have the
effect of crimes?--were you not chased as a thief when I rescued you from
your foe, the law?--are you not, though a boy in years, under an alias,
and an exile from your own land? And how can you put these austere
questions to me, who am growing grey in the endeavour to extract sunbeams
from cucumbers--subsistence from poverty? I repeat that there are
reasons why I must avoid, for the present, the great capitals. I must
sink in life, and take to the provinces. Birnie is sanguine as ever; but
he is a terrible sort of comforter! Enough of that. Now to yourself:
our savings are less than you might expect; to be sure, Birnie has been
treasurer, and I have laid by a little for Fanny, which I will rather
starve than touch. There remain, however, 150 napoleons, and our
effects, sold at a fourth their value, will fetch 150 more. Here is your
share. I have compassion on you. I told you I would bear you harmless
and innocent. Leave us while yet time."
It seemed, then, to Morton that Gawtrey had divined his thoughts of shame
and escape of the previous night; perhaps Gawtrey had: and such is the
human heart, that, instead of welcoming the very release he had half
contemplated, now that it was offered him, Philip shrank from it as a
"Poor Gawtrey!" said he, pushing back the canvas bag of gold held out to
him, "you shall not go over the world, and feel that the orphan you fed
and fostered left you to starve with your money in his pocket. When you
again assure me that you have committed no crime, you again remind me
that gratitude has no right to be severe upon the shifts and errors of
its benefactor. If you do not conform to society, what has society done
for me? No! I will not forsake you in a reverse. Fortune has given you
a fall. What, then, courage, and at her again!"
These last words were said so heartily and cheerfully as Morton sprang
from the bed, that they inspirited Gawtrey, who had really desponded of
"Well," said he, "I cannot reject the only friend left me; and while I
live--. But I will make no professions. Quick, then, our luggage is
already gone, and I hear Birnie grunting the rogue's march of retreat."
Morton's toilet was soon completed, and the three associates bade adieu
to the _bureau_.
Birnie, who was taciturn and impenetrable as ever, walked a little before
as guide. They arrived, at length, at a _serrurier's_ shop, placed in an
alley near the Porte St. Denis. The _serrurier_ himself, a tall,
begrimed, blackbearded man, was taking the shutters from his shop as they
approached. He and Birnie exchanged silent nods; and the former, leaving
his work, conducted them up a very filthy flight of stairs to an attic,
where a bed, two stools, one table, and an old walnut-tree bureau formed
the sole articles of furniture. Gawtrey looked rather ruefully round the
black, low, damp walls, and said in a crestfallen tone:
"We were better off at the Temple of Hymen. But get us a bottle of wine,
some eggs, and a frying-pan. By Jove, I am a capital hand at an omelet!"
The _serrurier_ nodded again, grinned, and withdrew.
"Rest here," said Birnie, in his calm, passionless voice, that seemed to
Morton, however, to assume an unwonted tone of command. "I will go and
make the best bargain I can for our furniture, buy fresh clothes, and
engage our places for Tours."
"For Tours?" repeated Morton.
"Yes, there are some English there; one can live wherever there are
English," said Gawtrey.
"Hum!" grunted Birnie, drily, and, buttoning up his coat, he walked
About noon he returned with a bundle of clothes, which Gawtrey, who
always regained his elasticity of spirit wherever there was fair play to
his talents, examined with great attention, and many exclamations of
"I have done well with the Jew," said Birnie, drawing from his coat
pocket two heavy bags. "One hundred and eighty napoleons. We shall
commence with a good capital."
"You are right, my friend," said Gawtrey.
The _serrurier_ was then despatched to the best restaurant in the
neighbourhood, and the three adventurers made a less Socratic dinner than
might have been expected.
"Then out again he flies to wing his marry round."
THOMPSON'S _Castle of Indolence_.
"Again he gazed, 'It is,' said he, 'the same;
There sits he upright in his seat secure,
As one whose conscience is correct and pure.'"--CRABBE.
The adventurers arrived at Tours, and established themselves there in a
lodging, without any incident worth narrating by the way.
At Tours Morton had nothing to do but take his pleasure and enjoy
himself. He passed for a young heir; Gawtrey for his tutor--a doctor in
divinity; Birnie for his valet. The task of maintenance fell on Gawtrey,
who hit off his character to a hair; larded his grave jokes with
university scraps of Latin; looked big and well-fed; wore knee-breeches
and a shovel hat; and played whist with the skill of a veteran vicar. By
his science in that game he made, at first, enough; at least, to defray
their weekly expenses. But, by degrees, the good people at Tours, who,
under pretence of health, were there for economy, grew shy of so
excellent a player; and though Gawtrey always swore solemnly that he
played with the most scrupulous honour (an asseveration which Morton, at
least, implicitly believed), and no proof to the contrary was ever
detected, yet a first-rate card-player is always a suspicious character,
unless the losing parties know exactly who he is. The market fell off,
and Gawtrey at length thought it prudent to extend their travels.
"Ah!" said Mr. Gawtrey, "the world nowadays has grown so ostentatious
that one cannot travel advantageously without a post-chariot and four
horses." At length they found themselves at Milan, which at that time
was one of the El Dorados for gamesters. Here, however, for want of
introductions, Mr. Gawtrey found it difficult to get into society. The
nobles, proud and rich, played high, but were circumspect in their
company; the _bourgeoisie_, industrious and energetic, preserved much of
the old Lombard shrewdness; there were no _tables d'hote_ and public
reunions. Gawtrey saw his little capital daily diminishing, with the
Alps at the rear and Poverty in the van. At length, always on the _qui
vive_, he contrived to make acquaintance with a Scotch family of great
respectability. He effected this by picking up a snuff-box which the
Scotchman had dropped in taking out his handkerchief. This politeness
paved the way to a conversation in which Gawtrey made himself so
agreeable, and talked with such zest of the Modern Athens, and the tricks
practised upon travellers, that he was presented to Mrs. Macgregor; cards
were interchanged, and, as Mr. Gawtrey lived in tolerable style, the
Macgregors pronounced him "a vara genteel mon." Once in the house of a
respectable person, Gawtrey contrived to turn himself round and round,
till he burrowed a hole into the English circle then settled in Milan.
His whist-playing came into requisition, and once more Fortune smiled
To this house the pupil one evening accompanied the tutor. When the
whist party, consisting of two tables, was formed, the young man found
himself left out with an old gentleman, who seemed loquacious and good-
natured, and who put many questions to Morton, which he found it
difficult to answer. One of the whist tables was now in a state of
revolution, viz., a lady had cut out and a gentleman cut in, when the
door opened, and Lord Lilburne was announced.
Mr. Macgregor, rising, advanced with great respect to this personage.
"I scarcely ventured to hope you would coom, Lord Lilburne, the night is
"You did not allow sufficiently, then, for the dulness of my solitary inn
and the attractions of your circle. Aha! whist, I see."
"You play sometimes?"
"Very seldom, now; I have sown all my wild oats, and even the ace of
spades can scarcely dig them out again."
"Ha! ha! vara gude."
"I will look on;" and Lord Lilburne drew his chair to the table, exactly
opposite to Mr. Gawtrey.
The old gentleman turned to Philip.
"An extraordinary man, Lord Lilburne; you have heard of him, of course?"
"No, indeed; what of him?" asked the young man, rousing himself.
"What of him?" said the old gentleman, with a smile; "why the newspapers,
if you ever read them, will tell you enough of the elegant, the witty
Lord Lilburne; a man of eminent talent, though indolent. He was wild in
his youth, as clever men often are; but, on attaining his title and
fortune, and marrying into the family of the then premier, he became more
sedate. They say he might make a great figure in politics if he would.
He has a very high reputation--very. People do say that he is still fond
of pleasure; but that is a common failing amongst the aristocracy.
Morality is only found in the middle classes, young gentleman. It is a
lucky family, that of Lilburne; his sister, Mrs. Beaufort--"
"Beaufort!" exclaimed Morton, and then muttered to himself, "Ah, true--
true; I have heard the name of Lilburne before."
"Do you know the Beauforts? Well, you remember how luckily Robert,
Lilburne's brother-in-law, came into that fine property just as his
predecessor was about to marry a--"
Morton scowled at his garrulous acquaintance, and stalked abruptly to the
Ever since Lord Lilburne had seated himself opposite to Mr. Gawtrey, that
gentleman had evinced a perturbation of manner that became obvious to the
company. He grew deadly pale, his hands trembled, he moved uneasily in
his seat, he missed deal, he trumped his partner's best diamond; finally
he revoked, threw down his money, and said, with a forced smile, "that
the heat of the room overcame him." As he rose Lord Lilburne rose also,
and the eyes of both met. Those of Lilburne were calm, but penetrating
and inquisitive in their gaze; those of Gawtrey were like balls of fire.
He seemed gradually to dilate in his height, his broad chest expanded, he
"Ah, Doctor," said Mr. Macgregor, "let me introduce you to Lord
The peer bowed haughtily; Mr. Gawtrey did not return the salutation, but
with a sort of gulp, as if he were swallowing some burst of passion,
strode to the fire, and then, turning round, again fixed his gaze upon
the new guest.
Lilburne, however, who had never lost his self-composure at this strange
rudeness, was now quietly talking with their host.
"Your Doctor seems an eccentric man--a little absent--learned, I suppose.
Have you been to Como, yet?"
Mr. Gawtrey remained by the fire beating the devil's tattoo upon the
chimney-piece, and ever and anon turning his glance towards Lilburne, who
seemed to have forgotten his existence.
Both these guests stayed till the party broke up; Mr. Gawtrey apparently
wishing to outstay Lord Lilburne; for, when the last went down-stairs,
Mr. Gawtrey, nodding to his comrade and giving a hurried bow to the host,
descended also. As they passed the porter's lodge, they found Lilburne
on the step of his carriage; he turned his head abruptly, and again met
Mr. Gawtrey's eye; paused a moment, and whispered over his shoulder:
"So we remember each other, sir? Let us not meet again; and, on that
condition, bygones are bygones."
"Scoundrel!" muttered Gawtrey, clenching his fists; but the peer had
sprung into his carriage with a lightness scarcely to be expected from
his lameness, and the wheels whirled within an inch of the soi-disant
doctor's right pump.
Gawtrey walked on for some moments in great excitement; at length he
turned to his companion,--
"Do you guess who Lord Lilburne is? I will tell you my first foe and
Fanny's grandfather! Now, note the justice of Fate: here is this man--
mark well--this man who commenced life by putting his faults on my own
shoulders! From that little boss has fungused out a terrible hump. This
man who seduced my affianced bride, and then left her whole soul, once
fair and blooming--I swear it--with its leaves fresh from the dews of
heaven, one rank leprosy, this man who, rolling in riches, learned to
cheat and pilfer as a boy learns to dance and play the fiddle, and (to
damn me, whose happiness he had blasted) accused me to the world of his
own crime!--here is this man who has not left off one vice, but added to
those of his youth the bloodless craft of the veteran knave;--here is
this man, flattered, courted, great, marching through lanes of bowing
parasites to an illustrious epitaph and a marble tomb, and I, a rogue
too, if you will, but rogue for my bread, dating from him my errors and
my ruin! I--vagabond--outcast--skulking through tricks to avoid crime--
why the difference? Because one is born rich and the other poor--because
he has no excuse for crime, and therefore no one suspects him!"
The wretched man (for at that moment he was wretched) paused breathless
from his passionate and rapid burst, and before him rose in its marble
majesty, with the moon full upon its shining spires--the wonder of Gothic
Italy--the Cathedral Church of Milan.
"Chafe not yourself at the universal fate," said the young man, with a
bitter smile on his lips and pointing to the cathedral; "I have not lived
long, but I have learned already enough to know this? he who could raise
a pile like that, dedicated to Heaven, would be honoured as a saint; he
who knelt to God by the roadside under a hedge would be sent to the house
of correction as a vagabond. The difference between man and man is
money, and will be, when you, the despised charlatan, and Lilburne, the
honoured cheat, have not left as much dust behind you as will fill a
snuff-box. Comfort yourself, you are in the majority."
"A desert wild
Before them stretched bare, comfortless, and vast,
With gibbets, bones, and carcasses defiled."
THOMPSON'S _Castle of Indolenece_.
Mr. Gawtrey did not wish to give his foe the triumph of thinking he had
driven him from Milan; he resolved to stay and brave it out; but when he
appeared in public, he found the acquaintances he had formed bow
politely, but cross to the other side of the way. No more invitations to
tea and cards showered in upon the jolly parson. He was puzzled, for
people, while they shunned him, did not appear uncivil. He found out at
last that a report was circulated that he was deranged; though he could
not trace this rumour to Lord Lilburne, he was at no loss to guess from
whom it had emanated. His own eccentricities, especially his recent
manner at Mr. Macgregor's, gave confirmation to the charge. Again the
funds began to sink low in the canvas bags, and at length, in despair,
Mr. Gawtrey was obliged to quit the field. They returned to France
through Switzerland--a country too poor for gamesters; and ever since the
interview with Lilburne, a great change had come over Gawtrey's gay
spirit: he grew moody and thoughtful, he took no pains to replenish the
common stock, he talked much and seriously to his young friend of poor
Fanny, and owned that he yearned to see her again. The desire to return
to Paris haunted him like a fatality; he saw the danger that awaited him
there, but it only allured him the more, as the candle does the moth
whose wings it has singed. Birnie, who, in all their vicissitudes and
wanderings, their ups and downs, retained the same tacit, immovable
demeanour, received with a sneer the orders at last to march back upon
the French capital. "You would never have left it, if you had taken my
advice," he said, and quitted the room.
Mr. Gawtrey gazed after him and muttered, "Is the die then cast?"
"What does he mean?" said Morton.
"You will know soon," replied Gawtrey, and he followed Birnie; and from
that time the whispered conferences with that person, which had seemed
suspended during their travels, were renewed.
. . . . . . . . . .
One morning, three men were seen entering Paris on foot through the Porte
St. Denis. It was a fine day in spring, and the old city looked gay with
its loitering passengers and gaudy shops, and under that clear blue
exhilarating sky so peculiar to France.
Two of these men walked abreast, the other preceded them a few steps.
The one who went first--thin, pale, and threadbare--yet seemed to suffer
the least from fatigue; he walked with a long, swinging, noiseless
stride, looking to the right and left from the corners of his eyes. Of
the two who followed, one was handsome and finely formed, but of swarthy
complexion, young, yet with a look of care; the other, of sturdy frame,
leaned on a thick stick, and his eyes were gloomily cast down.
"Philip," said the last, "in coming back to Paris--I feel that I am
coming back to my grave!"
"Pooh--you were equally despondent in our excursions elsewhere."
"Because I was always thinking of poor Fanny, and because--because--
Birnie was ever at me with his horrible temptations!"
"Birnie! I loathe the man! Will you never get rid of him?"
"I cannot! Hush! he will hear us. How unlucky we have been! and now
without a son in our pockets--here the dunghill--there the gaol! We are
in his power at last!"
"His power! what mean you?"
"What ho! Birnie!" cried Gawtrey, unheeding Morton's question. "Let us
halt and breakfast: I am tired."
"You forget!--we have no money till we make it," returned Birnie,
coldly.--"Come to the _serrurier's_ he will trust us."
"Gaunt Beggary and Scorn with many bell-hounds more."
THOMSON'S _Castle of Indolence_.
"The other was a fell, despiteful fiend."--Ibid.
"Your happiness behold! then straight a wand
He waved, an anti-magic power that hath
Truth from illusive falsehood to command."--Ibid.
"But what for us, the children of despair,
Brought to the brink of hell--what hope remains?
It may be observed that there are certain years in which in a civilised
country some particular crime comes into vogue. It flares its season,
and then burns out. Thus at one time we have Burking--at another,
Swingism--now, suicide is in vogue--now, poisoning tradespeople in apple-
dumplings--now, little boys stab each other with penknives--now, common
soldiers shoot at their sergeants. Almost every year there is one crime
peculiar to it; a sort of annual which overruns the country but does not
bloom again. Unquestionably the Press has a great deal to do with these
epidemics. Let a newspaper once give an account of some out-of-the-way
atrocity that has the charm of being novel, and certain depraved minds
fasten to it like leeches. They brood over and revolve it--the idea
grows up, a horrid phantasmalian monomania; and all of a sudden, in a
hundred different places, the one seed sown by the leaden types springs
up into foul flowering.
[An old Spanish writer, treating of the Inquisition, has some very
striking remarks on the kind of madness which, whenever some
terrible notoriety is given to a particular offence, leads persons
of distempered fancy to accuse themselves of it. He observes that
when the cruelties of the Inquisition against the imaginary crime of
sorcery were the most barbarous, this singular frenzy led numbers to
accuse themselves of sorcery. The publication and celebrity of the
crime begat the desire of the crime.]
But if the first reported aboriginal crime has been attended with
impunity, how much more does the imitative faculty cling to it. Ill-
judged mercy falls, not like dew, but like a great heap of manure, on the
Now it happened that at the time I write of, or rather a little before,
there had been detected and tried in Paris a most redoubted coiner. He
had carried on the business with a dexterity that won admiration even for
the offence; and, moreover, he had served previously with some
distinction at Austerlitz and Marengo. The consequence was that the
public went with instead of against him, and his sentence was transmuted
to three years' imprisonment by the government. For all governments in
free countries aspire rather to be popular than just.
No sooner was this case reported in the journals--and even the gravest
took notice, of it (which is not common with the scholastic journals of
France)--no sooner did it make a stir and a sensation, and cover the
criminal with celebrity, than the result became noticeable in a very
large issue of false money.
Coining in the year I now write of was the fashionable crime. The police
were roused into full vigour: it became known to them that there was one
gang in especial who cultivated this art with singular success. Their
coinage was, indeed, so good, so superior to all their rivals, that it
was often unconsciously preferred by the public to the real mintage. At
the same time they carried on their calling with such secrecy that they
utterly baffled discovery.
An immense reward was offered by the _bureau_ to any one who would betray
his accomplices, and Monsieur Favart was placed at the head of a
commission of inquiry. This person had himself been a _faux monnoyer_,
and was an adept in the art, and it was he who had discovered the
redoubted coiner who had brought the crime into such notoriety. Monsieur
Favart was a man of the most vigilant acuteness, the most indefatigable
research, and of a courage which; perhaps, is more common than we
suppose. It is a popular error to suppose that courage means courage in
everything. Put a hero on board ship at a five-barred gate, and, if he
is not used to hunting, he will turn pale; put a fox-hunter on one of the
Swiss chasms, over which the mountaineer springs like a roe, and his
knees will knock under him. People are brave in the dangers to which
they accustom themselves, either in imagination or practice.
Monsieur Favart, then, was a man of the most daring bravery in facing
rogues and cut-throats. He awed them with his very eye; yet he had been
known to have been kicked down-stairs by his wife, and when he was drawn
into the grand army, he deserted the eve of his first battle. Such, as
moralists say, is the inconsistency of man!
But Monsieur Favart was sworn to trace the coiners, and he had never
failed yet in any enterprise he undertook. One day he presented himself
to his chief with a countenance so elated that that penetrating
functionary said to him at once--
"You have heard of our messieurs!"
"I have: I am to visit them to-night."
"Bravo! How many men will you take?"
"From twelve to twenty to leave without on guard. But I must enter
alone. Such is the condition: an accomplice who fears his own throat too
much to be openly a betrayer will introduce me to the house--nay, to the
very room. By his description it is necessary I should know the exact
locale in order to cut off retreat; so to-morrow night I shall surround
the beehive and take the honey."
"They are desperate fellows, these coiners, always; better be cautious."
"You forget I was one of them, and know the masonry." About the same
time this conversation was going on at the bureau of the police, in
another part of the town Morton and Gawtrey were seated alone. It is
some weeks since they entered Paris, and spring has mellowed into summer.
The house in which they lodged was in the lordly quartier of the Faubourg
St. Germain; the neighbouring streets were venerable with the ancient
edifices of a fallen noblesse; but their tenement was in a narrow, dingy
lane, and the building itself seemed beggarly and ruinous. The apartment
was in an attic on the sixth story, and the window, placed at the back of
the lane, looked upon another row of houses of a better description, that
communicated with one of the great streets of the quartier. The space
between their abode and their opposite neighbours was so narrow that the
sun could scarcely pierce between. In the height of summer might be
found there a perpetual shade.
The pair were seated by the window. Gawtrey, well-dressed, smooth-
shaven, as in his palmy time; Morton, in the same garments with which he
had entered Paris, weather-stained and ragged. Looking towards the
casements of the attic in the opposite house, Gawtrey said, mutteringly,
"I wonder where Birnie has been, and why he has not returned. I grow
suspicious of that man."
"Suspicious of what?" asked Morton. "Of his honesty? Would he rob
"Rob me! Humph--perhaps! but you see I am in Paris, in spite of the
hints of the police; he may denounce me."
"Why, then, suffer him to lodge away from you?"
"Why? because, by having separate houses there are two channels of
escape. A dark night, and a ladder thrown across from window to window,
he is with us, or we with him."
"But wherefore such precautions? You blind--you deceive me; what have
you done?--what is your employment now? You are, mute. Hark you,
Gawtrey. I have pinned my fate to you--I am fallen from hope itself! At
times it almost makes me mad to look back--and yet you do not trust me.
Since your return to Paris you are absent whole nights--often days; you
are moody and thoughtful-yet, whatever your business, it seems to bring
you ample returns."
"You think that," said Gawtrey, mildly, and with a sort of pity in his
voice; "yet you refuse to take even the money to change those rags."
"Because I know not how the money was gained. Ah, Gawtrey, I am not too
proud for charity, but I am for--" He checked the word uppermost in his
thoughts, and resumed--
"Yes; your occupations seem lucrative. It was but yesterday Birnie gave
me fifty napoleons, for which he said you wished change in silver."
"Did he? The ras-- Well! and you got change for them?"
"I know not why, but I refused."
"That was right, Philip. Do nothing that man tells you."
"Will you, then, trust me? You are engaged in some horrible traffic! it
may be blood! I am no longer a boy--I have a will of my own--I will not
be silently and blindly entrapped to perdition. If I march thither, it
shall be with my own consent. Trust me, and this day, or we part
"Be ruled. Some secrets it is better not to know."
"It matters not. I have come to my decision--I ask yours."
Gawtrey paused for some moments in deep thought. At last he lifted his
eyes to Philip, and replied:
"Well, then, if it must be. Sooner or later it must have been so; and I
want a confidant. You are bold, and will not shrink. You desire to know
my occupation--will you witness it to-night?"
"I am prepared: to-night!"
Here a step was heard on the stairs--a knock at the door--and Birnie
He drew aside Gawtrey, and whispered him, as usual, for some moments.
Gawtrey nodded his head, and then said aloud--
"To-morrow we shall talk without reserve before my young friend.
To-night he joins us."
"To-night!--very well," said Birnie, with his cold sneer. He must take
the oath; and you, with your life, will be responsible for his honesty?"
"Ay! it is the rule."
"Good-bye, then, till we meet," said Birnie, and withdrew.
"I wonder," said Gawtrey, musingly, and between his grinded teeth,
"whether I shall ever have a good fair shot at that fellow? Ho! ho!"
and his laugh shook the walls.
Morton looked hard at Gawtrey, as the latter now sank down in his chair,
and gazed with a vacant stare, that seemed almost to partake of
imbecility, upon the opposite wall. The careless, reckless, jovial
expression, which usually characterised the features of the man, had for
some weeks given place to a restless, anxious, and at times ferocious
aspect, like the beast that first finds a sport while the hounds are yet
afar, and his limbs are yet strong, in the chase which marks him for his
victim, but grows desperate with rage and fear as the day nears its
close, and the death-dogs pant hard upon his track. But at that moment
the strong features, with their gnarled muscle and iron sinews, seemed to
have lost every sign both of passion and the will, and to be locked in a
stolid and dull repose. At last he looked up at Morton, and said, with a
smile like that of an old man in his dotage--
"I'm thinking that my life has been one mistake! I had talents--you
would not fancy it--but once I was neither a fool nor a villain! Odd,
isn't it? Just reach me the brandy."
But Morton, with a slight shudder, turned and left the room.
He walked on mechanically, and gained, at last, the superb _Quai_ that
borders the Seine; there, the passengers became more frequent; gay
equipages rolled along; the white and lofty mansions looked fair and
stately in the clear blue sky of early summer; beside him flowed the
sparkling river, animated with the painted baths that floated on its
surface: earth was merry and heaven serene his heart was dark through
all: Night within--Morning beautiful without! At last he paused by that
bridge, stately with the statues of those whom the caprice of time
honours with a name; for though Zeus and his gods be overthrown, while
earth exists will live the worship of Dead Men;--the bridge by which you
pass from the royal Tuileries, or the luxurious streets beyond the Rue de
Rivoli, to the Senate of the emancipated People, and the gloomy and
desolate grandeur of the Faubourg St. Germain, in whose venerable haunts
the impoverished descendants of the old feudal tyrants, whom the birth of
the Senate overthrew, yet congregate;--the ghosts of departed powers
proud of the shadows of great names. As the English outcast paused
midway on the bridge, and for the first time lifting his head from his
bosom, gazed around, there broke at once on his remembrance that terrible
and fatal evening, when, hopeless, friendless, desperate, he had begged
for charity of his uncle's hireling, with all the feelings that then (so
imperfectly and lightly touched on in his brief narrative to Gawtrey) had
raged and blackened in his breast, urging to the resolution he had
adopted, casting him on the ominous friendship of the man whose guidance
he even then had suspected and distrusted. The spot in either city had a
certain similitude and correspondence each with each: at the first he had
consummated his despair of human destinies--he had dared to forget the
Providence of God--he had arrogated his fate to himself: by the first
bridge he had taken his resolve; by the last he stood in awe at the
result--stood no less poor--no less abject--equally in rags and squalor;
but was his crest as haughty and his eye as fearless, for was his
conscience as free and his honour as unstained? Those arches of stone--
those rivers that rolled between, seemed to him then to take a more
mystic and typical sense than belongs to the outer world--they were the
bridges to the Rivers of his Life. Plunged in thoughts so confused and
dim that he could scarcely distinguish, through the chaos, the one streak
of light which, perhaps, heralded the reconstruction or regeneration of
the elements of his soul;--two passengers halted, also by his side.
"You will be late for the debate," said one of them to the other. "Why
do you stop?"
"My friend," said the other, "I never pass this spot without recalling
the time when I stood here without a son, or, as I thought, a chance of
one, and impiously meditated self-destruction."
"You!--now so rich--so fortunate in repute and station--is it possible?
How was it? A lucky chance?--a sudden legacy?"
"No: Time, Faith, and Energy--the three Friends God has given to the
The men moved on; but Morton, who had turned his face towards them,
fancied that the last speaker fixed on him his bright, cheerful eye, with
a meaning look; and when the man was gone, he repeated those words, and
hailed them in his heart of hearts as an augury from above.
Quickly, then, and as if by magic, the former confusion of his mind
seemed to settle into distinct shapes of courage and resolve. "Yes," he
muttered; "I will keep this night's appointment--I will learn the secret
of these men's life. In my inexperience and destitution, I have suffered
myself to be led hitherto into a partnership, if not with vice and crime,
at least with subterfuge and trick. I awake from my reckless boyhood--my
unworthy palterings with my better self. If Gawtrey be as I dread to
find him--if he be linked in some guilty and hateful traffic; with that
loathsome accomplice--I will--" He paused, for his heart whispered,
"Well, and even so,--the guilty man clothed and fed thee!" "I will,"
resumed his thought, in answer to his heart--"I will go on my knees to
him to fly while there is yet time, to work--beg--starve--perish even--
rather than lose the right to look man in the face without a blush, and
kneel to his God without remorse!"
And as he thus ended, he felt suddenly as if he himself were restored to
the perception and the joy of the Nature and the World around him; the
NIGHT had vanished from his soul--he inhaled the balm and freshness of
the air--he comprehended the delight which the liberal June was
scattering over the earth--he looked above, and his eyes were suffused
with pleasure, at the smile of the soft blue skies. The MORNING became,
as it were, a part of his own being; and he felt that as the world in
spite of the storms is fair, so in spite of evil God is good. He walked
on--he passed the bridge, but his step was no more the same,--he forgot
his rags. Why should he be ashamed? And thus, in the very flush of this
new and strange elation and elasticity of spirit, he came unawares upon a
group of young men, lounging before the porch of one of the chief hotels
in that splendid Rue de Rivoli, wherein Wealth and the English have made
their homes. A groom, mounted, was leading another horse up and down the
road, and the young men were making their comments of approbation upon
both the horses, especially the one led, which was, indeed, of uncommon
beauty and great value. Even Morton, in whom the boyish passion of his
earlier life yet existed, paused to turn his experienced and admiring eye
upon the stately shape and pace of the noble animal, and as he did so, a
name too well remembered came upon his ear.
"Certainly, Arthur Beaufort is the most enviable fellow in Europe."
"Why, yes," said another of the young men; "he has plenty of money--is
good-looking, devilish good-natured, clever, and spends like a prince."
"Has the best horses!"
"The best luck at roulette!"
"The prettiest girls in love with him!"
"And no one enjoys life more. Ah! here he is!"
The group parted as a light, graceful figure came out of a jeweller's
shop that adjoined the hotel, and halted gaily amongst the loungers.
Morton's first impulse was to hurry from the spot; his second impulse
arrested his step, and, a little apart, and half-hid beneath one of the
arches of the colonnade which adorns the street, the Outcast gazed upon.
the Heir. There was no comparison in the natural personal advantages of
the two young men; for Philip Morton, despite all the hardships of his
rough career, had now grown up and ripened into a rare perfection of form
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